No. 29: Licorice

Stuff Dutch people like: Licorice, or Drop that is for you highly ingeburgerd (integrated) folk!

Dutch people love licorice. But not the kind of licorice you are thinking about, not that North American variety of chewy sugary red stick stuff or the slightly-salty black chewy stuff. No, the Dutch prefer a slightly more offending version:  which I refer to as the poison-flavoured-stuff.

I’ll say it again, licorice is at the top of stuff Dutch people like list. In fact, they eat the most amount of licorice per capita of any people in the world : a true Stuff-Dutch-People-Like fact! How much do they love it you ask? Well, enough do eat more than 4 pounds of it a year, each!

The Dutch Drop comes in a variety of different flavours and genres. There are four primary types of drop: soft & sweet, soft &salty, hard &sweet and hard & salty.  Drop can be bought just about anywhere, but can also be found in drugstores and pharmacies as Dutch people also believe it has some sort of medicinal properties (mainly concerning sore thoarts and tummy aches).

The versions of drops go on and on from Engelse drop (English) to honingdrop (honey), muntdrop (mint) to the obscure oceaandrop (ocean –huh?). Drop doesn’t come in spiraly tubes like it does across the pond, but rather pedestrian shapes such as circles, squares, diamonds, ovals, cubes  and coins. I’ve recently spotted a new trend –theme shaped drop: licorice cars anyone? Indeed –try autodrop! Like cats so much that you want to eat them? Well, then you’re sure to love Katjes drop! Of course the pinacle of all poison taste is the very scary: Dubbel Zout. Try at your peril!

Dutch people also love to force their love of drop onto unsuspecting foreigners.

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69 Responses to No. 29: Licorice

  1. Pingback: No.29 Licorice (drop) Revisted | Stuff Dutch People Like

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  3. Jet says:

    Great site and a great posting on drop. It shows you haven’t had much experience sampling your topic, though: ‘munt’ in muntdrop refers to its coin shape.

  4. Gido says:

    I just can’t believe that anyone would not love any sort of licorice. The simplicity of our word ‘drop’ says a lot of how important it is for us. Licorice is a word that sounds way too chemical.

    • Bells says:

      It may sound way too chemical, but Licorice comes from Glyccyrhiza or Liquorice, the zoethout plant that is at the base of any drop (be it Dutch or otherwise). Not very chemical at all, really.

      • Bill says:

        It’s funny you bring this up, because like a comment about American mayo in the fries section of this blog, Dutch seem to be obsessed with things being too “chemical”

  5. svenvantveer says:

    Yes, we dutch are proud of our drop! Whether you like it or not is a genetic disposition. You’re only really dutch if you like drop (autochtoon). If you don’t like drop, you’ll always be allochtoon.

    • ronja says:

      ik ben allochtoon omdat me moeder buitenlandse is. i love my drop! dus wat je zegt slaat nergens op.

      • joshua says:

        i cant find the the flat diamond shape regular drop……havent had it since I use to visit the local drugstore when visiting my oma in Breda. Cant find it anymore. Anyone know what it was called or where to find it?

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  8. Drop and hagelslag are the two things that make you Dutch ;-)
    And it has nothing to ddo with “Drop death”

  9. Charlotte says:

    When friends of mine came over to Holland they saw ‘drop’ everywhere. So I bought them some, they thought it was used to discipline and punish children.

  10. Paulien says:

    Autodrop is ANCIENT! And delicious! And seriously, drop should be somewhere WAYYYYY on top of this list, not on no. 29. It’s something as uniquely Dutch as Zwarte Pieten and Hagelslag!
    And muntdrop is drop shaped like a coin.

    And when you consider drop “poison-flavoured” you will never, ever become properply ingeburgerd. Just saying.


  11. Just reading this piece made me crave dubbel zoute drop… That stuff is just too good! THough my friends from New Zealand didn’t seem to think so when I let them try it…

    • tamtam says:

      Strangely enough I had the same response…
      So I ate it myself instead

      • Nyghtie says:

        I suddenly had the same thing, but for muntdrop… So I think I’ll just go buy me a big bag now, and eat it all on my own hahaha

  12. Pingback: No. 31: Feeding Dutch Licorice to strangers | Stuff Dutch People Like

  13. Bernjan says:

    Next vacation, don’t forget to bring loads of drop and see how many foreigners will puke :)

  14. Pingback: No. 36: Sinterklaas | Stuff Dutch People Like

  15. Angie from the Bergen says:

    This is really funny, i agree with all the above! mmm zoute drop and haha to the faces of the people that try it for the first time

  16. Gerard says:

    LMAO. Dubbel Zout: YESSSS!

  17. Stephanie says:

    I -LOVE- Dubbel Zout. My dad and sister can’t eat it, (she got frenchie taste buds from him) but mom and I went through it at a rate of a couple pounds a month back when we lived near a candy store that carried it in the states. Soooo good. Now I’m totally craving DZ drop and hagelslag. Darn you, I’ll never find either of those things where I live now.

  18. twansparant says:

    I seriously just can NOT understand that anyone would NOT like ‘our’ drop? It’s delicious! I eat kilos of that stuff, especially autodrop. And not to forget the ‘katjes’ drop (yes, drop shaped like cats). That tube shaped spirally stuff in the English drop doesn’t even come close to dutch drop!

  19. Giel Berkers says:

    This article made me hungry! I’m going to get myself a dropje!

  20. nomynot says:

    A happy coincedence.. after reading this artice and all it’s replys I was craving Drop… and was offerd some by a good friend half an hour later.. after wich I showed her this blog.. it made my day! keep it up!

  21. Carol DeJong says:

    I am an American married to a Dutchman from Holland. I love salted licorice drops and cannot see how anyone thinks they are poison. We have a Dutch store in San Jose and a Nordic store in Berkeley where we can get them, as well as that horrible salted herring my husband loves. I can’t believe I saw people eating them in public in Amsterdam. Of course, they cannot spoil as they are already spoiled.

    • Carol DeJong says:

      Black licorice is claimed to be carcinogenic- and since my papa died of stomach cancer after years of chewing his favorite black licorice, I cannot disprove this claim :-(
      I also am married to a Dutchman descended from Holland… nice to meet you.

  22. ablabius says:

    Of course foreigners don`t like drop. They only got the two kinds and those are horrible! :-P

    (I`m eating drop shaped like woolly spiders as I type this.)

    • chiara says:

      oooh the ones that are sugar coated? they are freaking delicious! (they are also the only kind of drop i have ever seen a foreigner eat without nearly puking :D)

  23. Walt Bakes says:

    I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and worked in Holland, Michigan. Since we have so many people of Dutch descent in West Michigan, Dubbel Zout is not hard to find, though if the laws were just it would be. Oh, that is terrible, terrible stuff that should not be considered food or medicine! Chocolate on bread for breakfast, that’s fine, but please do not try to pass off Dubbel Zout as licorice!

    • Kara says:

      I went to college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and my Dutch-descended housemate got me hooked on hagelslag- but now I can’t find it after moving out of that area! I got used to the Dutch section in the grocery stores! She was never mean enough to make me try drop, though.

  24. Janna says:

    Dutch licorice is horrible. I am 3rd generation Dutch immigrant and my Grandparents love that stuff. The best thing ever was when my grandpa (with the egging on of my father) tricked my poor southern born and raised, fried cornbread eating, banana pudding loving husband into eating this “candy.” Lets just say I warned him…

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  27. hidh says:

    Salmiak! How could you forget salmiak! Salmiak (salammoniac, ammonium chloride), aka “zwartwit”, is *the* acquired Dutch (and Scandinavian/nordic) taste in the realm of liquorice. I haven’t met anyone born outside the Netherlands or the nordic countries who doesn’t despise the taste. I love it!

  28. dizvis says:

    MMM Drop, I love it! But the poison part is actually true! People with heart conditions shound’t eat it because it elevates the heart rate, all the salt and stuff in it… despite that it is still great!
    except for the zoethout, that is just awfull.

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  30. Goin' Dutch on ya says:

    Does it really smell like cat piss?

  31. Mirna says:

    Most literaly choked on my coffe reading this XD
    my dutch colleague was like meh, it still taste good XD

    • Vaal says:

      It does. please try Engelse drop, mostly coconut and sugar. It could guide you towards the more salty varieties of drop. After conquering drop raw herring is possible. Well, sushi is popular, why shouldn’t the Dutch way of eating herring be?

  32. Femke says:

    Autodrop is the best! And also Dropgums (half drop, half winegum)! I always take it as a snack on long bus/car/airplane journeys :D

  33. maria says:

    I am Brazilian and I lived in the Netherlands for a year, studying. I absolutely LOVE DROP. I have to admit the first time I tried I had a hard time figuring out the flavour, but I felt there was something to it. For a while I didn’t really like drop, my tastebuds said NO but my head said YES and even though I didn’t apreciate it very much I could not stop eating!! After few weeks I LOVED drop. The diferente kinds of drop depend on texture and flavour, and the flavour is given mainly by salmiak and zoetehout (which are ammonium chloride and liquorice root, actually) in diferent quantities. My favourite tipes are dubbel zout and muntdrop – I’m not so keen on sweet or too soft drop, and I just LOVE the texture of the munten, it’s perfect. The only tipe I prefer not to eat (although I prefer salty dropjes, I would never say no to sweet ones) is that light-brown one. If I can recall correctly, that one has no zoetehout, it’s just salmiak and plain sugar… not as deep flavoured and complex as my beloved black, rubbery delicious drops.

  34. Paula says:

    I think I might be the only dutch person in the world who HATES drop :’)

  35. Nick says:

    Muntdrop is my favorite, usually bring as many bags as my suitcase can hold back the the UK all for my own consumption cause no-one else likes it over here :D Just one correction on the article, Muntdrop is not mintdrop, munt also means ‘coin’ and is shaped that way and usually hard & sweet.

  36. Pingback: D like Drop | wolbashi's

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  38. Martine says:

    When I went to America for a new job I started off with an orientation week with a group of people from all over the world. Being Dutch I am not able to live without licorice, especially not without the dubbel zoute. So I brought enough with me to survive for a while ;).
    When we were asked to tell something about our country I decided to let my new foreign friends try out some of my dubbel zoute licorice. Their faces were hilarious and I believe none of them actually finished eating the licorice. They could not believe we call it candy, and actually enjoy eating it. It was a hard year for me since Dutch licorice is hard to find in the USA ;)

  39. d.vd.hof says:

    ‘dubbel zout’ is my favourite :o (dont eat too much your mouth will be completely dehydrated.

  40. Is it like the licorice sold in Sweden? I loved that type!

  41. silvana says:

    you made me hungry, looking for drop in the cupboard right now :) I have some zoute drop left

  42. Rose Walker says:

    I spend a summer with a family in Fenray it was about between 1973-1975. I went to Helgoland and there I remmber I bought myself this round candy ball. it was black and white it was licorice, it was big they had different sizes. i loved it, I could never find another place anywhere to buy myself another one like that. I wished I could find a place somewhere, but I live in the Unitd States and they dont make licorice like in Germany and in Holland. I am a licorice- holic, yes I am addicted to licorice and it always settles my stomachache whenever I had one. Maybe one day I make a friend that lives in holland that can send me a care package of that great Dutch licorice.

    • sil says:

      there are mailorder company’s who send dutch stuff abroad :)
      Just google it, like: “buy dutch drop” and you can choose between stores.

  43. Pete says:

    I was born and raised in the Netherlands and have been living there for forty years. But because of all those petty restrictions one half of Dutchiedom forces on the other half of Dutchiedom, I moved to the UK.

    Apart from All-sorts (what Dutchiedom usually refers to as ‘Engelse drop’) liquorice-Dutch-style is not available here. At least I haven’t ever SEEN any, in all my 13 years. And if I WERE to spot some, I certainly would leave it alone.

    Although I’m Dutch by birth and passport, I really can’t stand the stuff. Whatever the shape or flavour – but for All-sorts aforementioned – it’ll have adverse effects on my physical wellbeing. In other words: it’ll make me bodily ill – literally. And this happens all the time.

    Not that I didn’t try, mind. But drop is just not my thing.

    Does this make me the exception to the rule? That loving drop is a patriotic duty, I mean….?

  44. FinnXpat says:

    I find the dutch variety of Drop a bit bland, but I’m an expat from Finland. I think there’s no better “salmiakki” than the turkish peppers from Fazer. You can buy them from Schiphol in a handy non-corrodable pain-tins. And indeed, proper drop consists mostly of ammonium chloride, which leaves a slightly asphalthy taste in your mouth. You can do it yourself as well, just mix pure ammonia with hydrochloric acid and boil out the water. Resulting white salt is pure awesomeness (we used to make it in the Uni chemistry lessons for fun).

    We also love to give salmiakki to unsuspecting foreigners and the reaction depending the variety is something that this poor fellow has to go through in his blog:

  45. Bronco67NL says:

    We also have a variety named ‘drop knikkers’ (drop marbles) but seeing it actually written on the bag, it made quite a few of my english/american friends laugh out loud!

  46. Lisa Snyder says:

    Love droppies…all sizes, colors, shapes and flavours!!! Reading this blog is making my mouth water and I’m seriously considering driving by the Dutch deli to get some on the way home. I also have enjoyed getting my Canadian friends to try it. It’s actually kind of disappointing when they like it!! My favourite is the “brown bears” and when feeling like a challenge there is always the triple-salted droppies!! Yum, yum and yum!!!

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  48. Heidi says:

    How is it I’m not Dutch, then? I adore drop, especially the good salmiak kind, and like hagelslag too! I don’t even have any Dutch heritage.

    Luckily there are a couple of places in Seattle where I can get my goodies, thanks partially to the local Indonesian and Norwegian populations.

  49. Mirjam says:

    reading this I feel I’m true dutch. I even have a bag of dropjes next to my computer while writing this! My favourite is zoete drop (sweet soft) but in all honesty I love every dropje. Drop rules!!

  50. Tahoma says:

    Dutch licorice is for beginners. If you want to try real licorice with taste, you should buy some Swedish ones. Try getting some Turkisk Peppar or Djungelvrål. Those are easy to find, all shops have them. In Sweden, that is. Make a new video trying those instead.

  51. Ralph says:

    I LOVE drop, especially Katja’s hopjes or what are they called the ones that look like little hills.
    Dubbel Zout is doable but not my favorite, I usually love the sweet softer ones.
    The spiral ones are great too, the ones everyone seems to tear apart before eating (I also do that).
    Munt Drop is too hard for me though I love the honey ones shaped like bee hives.
    I have tried introducing drop here in Indonesia but people find it disgusting, some even claiming they rather drink a full bottle of coughing syrup (they said it tastes like that but then worse).
    People thought I was joking with them when I said it is Dutch candy, they were NOT amused!

  52. Bill says:

    I really like the katjes, but my Dutch wife loves the dubbel zout.

    Which is interesting. She absolutely HATES root beer, but loves this foul-flavored drop…

  53. Betsy says:

    You really should try the salmiak-ballen! Some of my not-dutch friends think it should be illegal, but they are delicious!!!!

  54. Joyce says:

    Any and all drop – thank goodness there’s a Dutch import store in the Portland area!

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